Updates & Features

Psychological Therapy in Pain

May 2018

Pain is not all in a patient’s head, but can psychotherapy help?

PainSolve Editorial Team

The psychology of pain

Chronic pain is a highly intractable issue that is encountered by clinicians across hundreds of medical conditions.1 Pain can have multiple consequences for affected individuals, including increasing the likelihood for depression, inability to work, disruption to personal relationships, and suicidal thoughts.2 Chronic pain is also frequently accompanied by comorbid psychological disorders, together resulting in significant disability (as measured by impairment of daily activities).2 Since the 1960s, there has been progress in advancing understanding of pain, from seeing pain as a purely physical sensation to recognition that pain can often be a biopsychosocial phenomenon with far-ranging effects on biological, psychological and emotional processes.3,4 This view is reflected in the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) definition of pain as ‘an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage’.5


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